Academic journal article Sign Language Studies

Double Mapping in Metaphorical Expressions of Thought and Communication in Catalan Sign Language (LSC)

Academic journal article Sign Language Studies

Double Mapping in Metaphorical Expressions of Thought and Communication in Catalan Sign Language (LSC)

Article excerpt

CONCEPTUAL METAPHORS INVOLVE a structure-preserving mapping between a concrete domain of thought (the source domain) and an abstract domain of thought (the target domain) (Lakoff and Turner 1989; LakofF and Johnson 1999). They are grounded in our everyday experience and are fundamental to our conception of the world (LakofF and Johnson 1980, 1999).

The past two decades have brought a groundswell of interest in and research on metaphors in sign languages. Research conducted on American Sign Language (e.g., Boyes-Braem 1981; Grushkin 1998; Holtemann 1990; Taub 2001; Wilbur 1987; P. Wilcox 1993, 2000), British Sign Language (e.g., Brennan 1990), and Italian Sign Language (e.g., Russo 2000), among others, constitutes comprehensive efforts to show the pervasiveness of conceptual metaphors in sign languages.

However, whereas metaphorical linguistic expressions in spoken language consist of one mapping, metaphorical items in sign languages use two mappings (Holtemann 1990; Taub 2001; P. Wilcox 1993). Numerous signs for abstract concepts-ideas, emotions, communication, and so on-incorporate a visual image of a concrete thing or activity. That is, in order to name or describe abstract concepts metaphorically, sign languages use a large array of iconic linguistic items for concrete shapes, locations, and movements. Boyes-Braem (1981) refers to these as "morphophonemic primes," Brennan (1990) as "visual metaphors," and Taub (2001) as "iconic image-schematic items."

For example, COMPRENDRE ("to understand") in Catalan Sign Language gives a visual depiction of communication as objects moving from one person to another. Jarque (1999) argues that the domains of communicating ideas and throwing objects are linked for the LSC signer. An idea corresponds to an object; telling or explaining the idea corresponds to throwing the object to someone; and understanding the idea corresponds to catching the object.

Brennan postulates the special relevance of iconicity: "The strong intuition that even signs with highly abstract referents show some link between form and meaning is given support once we realize that metaphorical relationships can operate across a wide range of meanings" (1990, 24-25). In cognitive linguistics, iconicity is characterized as a mapping between certain formal features of the expression of a sign (or a sublexical component of the sign) and some features of the meaning of this sign (or a sublexical component) or, as S. Wilcox (1999) points out, between our mental conceptions of a linguistic item's form and its meaning. According to Taub (2001, 67) and S. Wilcox (1999), iconicity in sign languages is based on the following:

* OUR PERCEPTION OF HANDS, ARMS, AND FINGERS AS HAVING SHAPES, LOCATIONS, AND MOVEMENT

* OUR ABILITY TO CONSTRUE SHAPES FROM THE PATH THAT A MOVING OBJECT TRACES IN SPACE

* OUR KNOWLEDGE THAT A SIGNER'S BODY IS A HUMAN BODY

* OUR ABILITY TO REORGANIZE THE BODY MOVEMENTS THAT GO ALONG WITH PARTICULAR ACTIVITIES

* OUR PERCEPTION THAT BODY GESTURES TAKE PLACE IN TIME AND SPACE

* OUR KNOWLEDGE OF THE MOVEMENTS OF SIGNING ITSELF

Taub provides a general framework and a set of tools for the precise description, modeling, and analysis of iconic linguistic items-the "analogue-building" model of iconicity. Specifically, she points out that metaphorical signs are shaped by two mappings: a metaphorical one from concrete to abstract conceptual domains and an iconic one between the concrete source domain and the linguistic forms that represent it (2001, 97). The target domain is presented using an iconic depiction of the source domain. For example, consider the LSC linguistic expression COMPRENDRE mentioned earlier. Table 1 sets out the correspondences between articulators, source, and target domains.

The dominant hand displays a spread open 5 handshape (HS), and the palm orientation (PO), facing the addressee's locus, closes to an S handshape and moves toward the signer. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.